Revisiting Area 51: Annie Jacobsen’s Shot Across the Bow of Government Conspiracy.

Annie Jacobsen is no stranger to controversy, and she certainly does not part company with it in her upcoming book Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis (to be released on Mar 28, 2017).  Lifting the veil of government conspiracies and secret programs that powers that be would rather be left unnoticed is a niche that Jacobsen has embraced with great success.  So much so, the yet-to-be released Phenomena, has already been picked up by Blumhouse and Amblin for a drama based on the book to be made into a television series. While this newest book deals with the secret experiments, programs and all-around interest of the United States government when it comes to extra-sensory phenomena, we revisit another title Jacobsen penned that set the world ablaze in 2011 with new allegations concerning America’s most famous secret base: Area 51.

Reality T.V.’s obsession with programming featuring conspiracy theories, paranormal happenings and ancient extraterrestrials was in full swing in 2011.  The public couldn’t get enough stories about conspiracies and aliens to sate their ever-growing appetite for entertainment. This time of ever-blossoming interest for all things paranormal gave rise to opportunities to propose a story concerning government conspiracies involving the cover-up of seemingly intergalactic proportions, which were not only popular and lucrative at that time, but profitable. Several authors, speakers and media producers took full advantage of the opportunity presented them and the genre expanded greatly.  In the meantime, investigative journalist and author Annie Jacobsen would uncover a shocking secret while researching her book about Area 51, which would lead the author head-on into a firestorm of controversy.

In June of 2011, the book “Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base” by author and L.A. Times writer Annie Jacobsen was released after several years of gathering research, unclassified documents and eyewitness testimony. Jacobsen had presented new evidence in a starkly informative narrative that took the reader through critical events and decisions that would bring about the creation and operation of the base, as well as insight into the top-secret projects and “black” operations that made the United States the leader in stealth and high-altitude flight. She would describe the fascinating lives of some of the test pilots, security guards and engineers brought previously unimagined technological advances into reality, and Jacobsen would also address the ubiquitous mythology of Area 51’s involvement with the wreckage of the crashed alien flying saucer from Roswell, New Mexico in a shocking and ghastly revelation.

That same year the book “Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base” by author and L.A. Times writer Annie Jacobsen after several years of gathering research, unclassified documents and eyewitness testimony. Jacobsen had presented new evidence the body of research she had collated into a chronology of Area 51, but soon Jacobsen was the one in the spotlight. Shortly following the book’s release came a firestorm of controversy about horrific allegations of crimes against humanity by the former Soviet Union and the United States with the most egregious of which Jacobsen describes in the last seven pages of the work. The mainstream media it seemed, only focused on those final seven pages.  Then the focus went from the story to Annie Jacobsen herself in a media backlash that would call into question the credibility of one of her unnamed sources from the book.  The irony of the media attacking one of their own for not revealing information about an unnamed source, who was for all intensive purposes acting as a whistleblower, was lost upon most, if not all her most vehement critics.


If you plan on reading the book, stop reading this article now.  Major points in the book are revealed from here on out.

On the off chance that you have lived in complete media and cultural isolation, “Area 51” is a household name that has been given to the secret facility in the Nevada desert that has captivated millions with its association to alleged research of acquired off-world technology and unidentified flying objects.  Author Annie Jacobsen presented a historical record of the base that focuses on the decisions made by some of the most influential and important individuals of the twentieth century that you may have never heard of. Those decisions, as presented by Jacobsen, would be influenced by the desperate struggle for technological and international power between the United States and the former Soviet Union which culminated in the development and deployment of secret spy planes containing advances in stealth, performance and capabilities that would have seemed like science fiction during the cold war. However, aliens (or the insinuation of extraterrestrial activity) are not the focus of this book, but a means to an unfortunate and disturbing end.

In the book, Annie Jacobsen’s unnamed source explains that on July 7, 1947 what crashed on a remote ranch near Roswell, New Mexico was a flying saucer, but it had not come from outer space.  In 1938, a Halloween broadcast of a radio play based on H.G. Well’s book “War of the Worlds” had reportedly cause a panic in the streets of America.  Whether the panic was actually widespread or embellished by the media at the time is still a bone of contention, but the news of panic reportedly made its way to Joseph Stalin, the then leader of the Soviet Union.  Stalin recognized that the apparent tendency for the citizens of the United States to panic when provoked, and sought a way to (no pun intended) capitalize on it.

Jacobsen makes the claim in the book that Stalin had German scientists he had German scientists and engineers that were smuggled, coaxed or kidnapped from Germany after WWII at his disposal.  He set upon them the task of constructing a flying disc, one so revolutionary and strange that would make the Americans that it was from another planet.  If the craft alone would not send the citizens of the United States taking to the streets in fear from an apparent alien invasion, the unearthly crew would.  Also for a short time at his disposal, Stalin had one of the most infamous monsters of the third Reich; Josef Mengele. As the story goes, Mengele had surgically mutilated children for Stalin, to produce the crew for the “alien” spacecraft that Stalin was to send to the United States that would physically resemble the popular notion of what an alien from another planet would physiologically resemble.  The craft and occupants were spirited away to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, then ultimately to the top secret facility at Groom Lake, Area 51.  There. According to Jacobson’s source, the United States government began to reconstruct the craft, and unbelievably, the crew themselves. This would include conducting human experimentation on physically and mentally handicapped children as well as prisoners, all of whom were non-consenting participants.

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The media leaped on this disclosure as if there was nothing else in the book.   There were dozens of televised and print interviews that focused on the book’s revelation that the “aliens” from Roswell weren’t aliens on her whirlwind book tour. The press couldn’t get enough. However, the invitations for Jacobson to talk with the press would soon become “hit pieces,” interview and articles would soon attacking her credibility as an investigative journalist.

In May of 2011, Annie Jacobsen was featured on a Segment of the television news magazine, ‘Nightline.’  Correspondent Bill Weir questioned the validity of the story in aggressive fashion, and asked to speak to her unnamed source.  Weir stated in the interview that Nightline was able to “track down” her source and interviewed him themselves, and he recounted the Roswell incident again.  But Weir was insistent that due to the age of the witness, and the fact that his story could not be corroborated, made him an unreliable source. Weir also focused on the allegation that the source said that “he never touched the people in that craft” where in Jacobsen’s book it is stated he held them.  Weir wraps up the segment insinuating that the book is a work of fiction by telling viewers to focus on “the real legacy of Area 51; the men who risked their lives in thankless silence” just moments after he calls into question the reliability of Jacobson’s source by citing that Korean War veterans that described massacres that never happened.

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Popular Mechanics featured an article in the May 2011 issue featuring an interview with Jacobsen discussing the highlights of the book, but a few months after the Weir’s hit piece aired on Nightline, on September 12, 2011 the magazine published another article… this making a point to contest several of the claims Jacobson’s source had disclosed, as well as systematically cataloging errors found throughout the book.

Throughout the media backlash, one thing was apparent.  The media was more concerned with discrediting Annie Jacobsen and her source than protecting the identity of her source. In the media, protecting the identity of an unnamed source is a standard practice, and protecting the identity of an unnamed source that happens to be technically, a government whistleblower, should be paramount.  Bill Weir of Nightline tracked down her source and conducted one single interview of unknown (but much, much less time than Jacobsen) length with the man that Jacobsen had spent hundreds of hours with over an extended period of time, and the Popular Mechanics article even complained to the publisher about having an unnamed source in the book.  Are we to believe that Popular Mechanics has never used an unnamed source or that they do not have early access to emerging technology when it comes to military vehicles, weapons and aircraft?

Perhaps what occurred here is the embellishment of a story from a kind old man with impeccable credentials or maybe it is a case of an author who throws a shocking claim in the end of their book in order to boost controversy and sales.  However, what if this is a case of an author who got too close to the truth.  What if this is a case of a seasoned and well-respected journalist and author that revealed something that was never to be revealed and the backlash and media smear was actually a campaign to suppress not her story, but THE story? It is said that every myth has its origins in the truth. Did Annie Jacobsen actually uncover what happened at Roswell, or present a story to the public that was so close to the truth that it drew the attention of entities that do not want the real story to ever be exposed?

Have we not seen how our own government, namely the Central Intelligence Agency, has manipulated media stories around the world with disinformation campaigns and expertly placing false information in order to influence the behavior of consumers of such media? The concepts of propaganda, media manipulation and selective release or withholding of information by both the government and the media were well-known and employed, so who are we to trust? Also, assuming something did crash in the desert in 1947, would it be more believable that a foreign government would attempt perform a hoax on the United States than alien beings travelling millions of miles through the vast and dangerous distances through space just to get to Earth and crash in the middle of the desert during a thunderstorm. Jacobsen references this question with the metaphor of Occam’s razor in the book as well.

“Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base” by Annie Jacobsen is a well-written book, that is beside the point. Annie Jacobson hadn’t just written those last seven pages that triggered the media into a frenzy, she had constructed a compelling and engrossing narrative of the history of Area 51 throughout the entire book.  The resulting backlash against the book by the press also demonstrated that even a respectable and credible author and investigative journalist can be the target of media scrutiny.  To my knowledge, Annie Jacobson has never retracted or refuted the story told to her by her unnamed Area 51 source, and continues to vehemently defend them as a trusted eyewitness to the events described in her book.

Annie Jacobsen is the author of several intriguing, upsetting, and thought-provoking books and can be found on  Her newest book, Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis, will be released on March 28, 2017.

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One thought on “Revisiting Area 51: Annie Jacobsen’s Shot Across the Bow of Government Conspiracy.

  1. Pingback: Area 51 only gets a 3.4 on Google reviews. | chaospirations

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